The Big Red Dance Squad qualified to advance to the UDA College Dance Team National Championship and earned three awards at the Universal Dance Association’s College Spirit Camp earlier this month.
“It was so amazing as a new team to be recognized with top awards, and we are so excited that we qualified for nationals,” said Shauna Cheatham ’19, captain of the Big Red Dance Squad and news writer for The Sun.
The UDA College Dance Team National Championship is the “most prestigious college dance team competition in the country,” according to its website. The competition will take place in January 2019 at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.
The Big Red Dance Squad was just formed last year by Cheatham to “create a new opportunity for dancers to compete in competitions and perform at games.”
When Cheatham transferred to Cornell her sophomore year, she was surprised there was no dance team performing at football and basketball games, which she believes to be a “huge part of the culture” for many Division 1 colleges.
“My junior year, it was really important to me to focus on starting and building this team because I want it to be what I leave behind at Cornell,” she said. “We performed at multiple basketball games and were received very positively by the administration and fans. I love the excitement of performing in front of fans and helping to cheer on the Big Red.”
In addition to competing at UDA college dance team competitions, the team performs jazz, pom and hip hop routines at Cornell’s home sporting events.
Amanda Hernandez ’21, a member of the team, said “the feeling of accomplishment and pride is unmatched.”
“As a new team, we have a challenging road ahead,” Hernandez said. “But we have already begun the journey.”
Earlier this month, the team also attended the UDA’s College Spirit Camp at the University of Delaware from August 8-11.
The camp included three days of instruction and one day of competition. Teams received instruction from UDA staff members and guest choreographers through master classes, technique work, individual performance evaluations and choreographed routines for game days.
The Big Red Dance Squad competed against other northeastern universities such as Villanova, Temple and the University of Delaware.
At the camp, the team took home Superior, Game Day Superior and Most Improved awards in the Division 1A category.
Cheatham said one of the team’s goal is to play an even greater role in Cornell athletics.
“Cornell has amazing dancers and a very strong dance community,” Cheatham said. “When the country turns to ESPN in January to watch nationals, I want them to see how talented our dancers really are.”